Packing Happiness MAG

By Ruth Hamilton, Golden, CO

I’m a New Zealander. I come from a ­country where sheep outnumber people, a snack is a piece of toast spread with squished banana, and the beaches stretch long and empty. ­Suddenly all that changed.

“Kids, we’re moving to the States.”

I dropped the bridle, grinning. But not everyone was happy. “America!” wailed my grandmother. “But that’s so far away!” My coworker was envious: “Oh man, it’s ­totally wasted on you! You won’t want to go to Las Vegas.”

When we flew out of Auckland airport, we left behind a typical New Zealand day: five inches of rain. We were met by friends. This was our first encounter with the famed American generosity. “We picked up a little bit of food for you guys,” they informed us. This “little bit” filled every cupboard and packed the fridge and freezer. New Englanders have the reputation of being cold, but I have no idea why.

Everything in America is larger than its New Zealand counterpart. The ovens are bigger, the buses are bigger, and the vehicles are enormous. We had never seen a frilly coffee filter. We were convinced they were cupcake liners. We rolled them up and sent them in letters back home with the caption, “Wow! Look at the size of an American muffin!”

The American habit of throwing pennies into fountains is one that has endeared this country to my brother. The rest of the family try to appear unrelated to him on visits to museums as he wades about, stuffing his pockets.

News from home filters through slowly. ­“Edmund Hillary dies!” the TV blared. “All New Zealand in mourning!” Not true; New Zealanders are an apathetic lot. Even last year’s centennial of our independence failed to make the paper. I’m not proud of that.

Americans love their country. You can see it in their eyes and hear it in their voices. Standing in a stadium while the national anthem plays is amazing. The pride is so strong you can feel it. You don’t get that in New Zealand.

Some things about the U.S. I’ll probably ­never understand, like graduating from high school. In New Zealand you just leave. And paying a dollar for a kiwi seems like robbery to someone who has seen them fed to pigs.

Some people hate moving. But my mum always says, “Happiness is transportable. If you’ve got it, you take it with you.” I guess she’s right. But honestly, if it’s America you move to, it’s a whole lot easier to pack.

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This article has 1 comment.

tweedle dee said...
on Dec. 29 2008 at 12:16 am
i liked this, i'm glad america seems that way!


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